Face Transplant U.S. Department of Defense Studies

Face Transplant Funding

In 2009, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) awarded Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) a $6.4 million contract to fund face transplants for U.S. military veterans with severe facial deformities caused by war injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan. The primary goals of the award are to improve the lives of these veterans and to develop best practices that will improve outcomes for future face transplant recipients.

The award provides funding for ten face transplant procedures to be performed at BWH. Accordingly, we are actively seeking candidates for the procedure. Although military officials estimate that there may be as many as 200 veterans who would qualify for the procedure, eligible civilians will also be considered. We anticipate that the pool of eventual recipients will be a mix of veterans and civilians.

The primary requirements to be considered as a candidate for face transplant surgery are: at least 18 years old; lost a major part of the face, such as the nose or the lips, or lost at least 25% of their facial tissue; and their facial injury cannot be treated acceptably by conventional reconstructive surgery. There are number of other factors that we consider to determine who would be a suitable candidate, most of which are addressed in our Face Transplant Patient Guide.

Additional Vascularized Composite Allograft (VCA) Transplant Funding

In the fall of 2014, BWH received another grant from the Department of Defense (totaling $2.4 million) to study Novel Strategies to Improve Immunomodulation and Noninvasive Clinical Monitoring in Vascularized Composite Allograft (VCA) Transplantation.  This study will examine a new drug protocol that may allow recipients of face and/or extremity transplants to significantly reduce the amount of immunosuppressant medications they need to take on a daily basis to prevent rejection of their transplants.

The award provides funding for four face and/or extremity transplant procedures to be performed at BWH. We will be actively seeking candidates for this procedure and the new drug protocol in the future. Civilians and military patients will be considered.

Contact Information

If you think you have a patient who would qualify for face transplant or extremity transplant surgery, please contact the Plastic Surgery Transplantation Program at (617) 732-5303.